I have a bit of a confession to make. All this cycling stuff I do, and write about, and encourage others to join me with? The truth is, for me, it’s not out of any real virtue – it’s because it’s the easy option. I woke up this morning knowing I had to go on my usual Tuesday 20 mile round trip, and hoping that the weather forecast on Sunday’s Countryfile would prove to be wrong*, and it wouldn’t be raining. Not just for the usual reasons, but because if it was raining I would have to drive and I haven’t driven anywhere for several months now. I hate driving. I’m bad at it, I’m always convinced I’m going to kill someone (or something), the car hates it when I drive, and my normal approach to parking is to abandon the car within sprinting distance of a curb and go and find a man to do it for me.
I really don’t know why people think that taking a car is easier than going on a bike. The last time I turned up at a village event – having cycled all of a mile-and-a-half to get there – some people acted as though I’d come by spaceship. ‘You’re making us all look bad,’ one guy said as I was leaving, but all I had to do is unlock my bike and I was off while he was still trying to manouevre his way out of his parking spot without running over any of the dogs and children milling about. It’s quicker by car, and it’s less rainy by car, but I wouldn’t say it was easier, or even more pleasant. Particularly if you take other drivers into account. There are many many horror stories from cyclists about car drivers but if this morning’s excursion was anything to go by, drivers behave far worse around other cars. There were two drivers today who thought it was perfectly acceptable to jam themselves right up my rear end at 50mph before roaring past me because I’d had the temerity to leave the right amount of braking distance between me and the car ahead. If a car did that to me on my bike, it would be terrifying. As it was, safe in my tin box, it was merely unpleasant and annoying but that doesn’t make it right.
But anyway, it was raining this morning, and I didn’t fancy arriving at the reserve soaking wet for a day’s work outside. And I also knew that if I left it much longer, I’d reach the point where I never drove again, and while that prospect holds a certain charm, I know that, living where we do, it is impractical. And it was fine**. So now I feel I don’t have to drive anywhere again for a couple of months now and I can get back on my bike with a clear conscience.
*Although I didn’t hold out much hope – the Countryfile weather forecast is always crammed full of so much authoritative and technical-sounding meteorological detail that doubting it is really not an option.
**Well, fine-ish although we’ll draw a veil over the matter of the Notso Bigtown carpark and just say that at least the other half’s no claims bonus is still intact.